by: Sam Klemet
Five new billboards are going up around the city calling on Indianapolis Power and Light Company to reduce its dependence on coal.
Instead, a collection of community groups want the utility to switch to cleaner, renewable sources.
"From cradle to grave it’s a very dangerous and polluting technology," Jodi Perras of the Sierra Club said of coal. ”There is no need for it in this day-and-age when we know there are cleaner ways to generate our energy.”
The Billboards read “Let’s Turn, Not Burn.”
The NAACP, Hoosier Interfaith Power and Light, and Citizens Action Coalition are joining the Sierra Club’s efforts which focus specifically on the Harding Street coal plant.
Several weeks ago, the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission approved $511-million in upgrades to meet federal mercury standards at the facility.
The investment is expected to raise rates between two and three percent.
"IPL is preparing for the future and we are working towards diversification of our generation resources, looking for cleaner more efficient options" said Brandi Davis-Handy of IPL. "The environmental controls that are being installed, not only at our Harding Street generation station, but also Petersburg are expected to reduce mercury emissions by approximately 80-percent.”
But, NAACP state chair for environmental climate justice, Denise Abdul-Rahman, says the upgrades prolong the problem.
"It’s very important for (IPL) to not waste their funds and further investments in carbon," she said. "Just by slowing down the emissions we’re still being negatively impacted and perhaps they will reconsider their decision and start investing in clean energy."
The billboards will be up for a month.
"We’re not saying we can shut off all the coal plants overnight," said Perras. "But ,we can start to move them to retirement in a way that we can make that shift to clean energy for our future."